What is “Hormone Yaki”?

Hormone-yaki (ホルモン焼き) is a Japanese dish, consisting of broiled internal organs of pigs, cows and poultry in the shape of large and small intestines, stomach, liver, heart, kidney, lungs, etc. This dish used to be served only in Korean barbecue restaurants. However, ready-made packages with already seasoned organ meat have been widely distributed in the supermarkets, so that anyone can quickly prepare this dish at home.

Why is it called “Hormone Yaki”?

There are diverging theories on the etymology of “Hormone Yaki”. The most popular one states that the word originated from the Kansai dialect hōrumon (放る物), literally meaning “discarded goods”. This is because organ meat is usually discarded after removing the edible muscle parts. Another popular view is that it capitalised on the popularity of the word “hormone”, a physiologically active substance and one of the buzzwords in postwar Japan. People held the belief that internal animal organs would raise their energy level as it contains hormone substances.


Preprocessed horumon-yaki

According to the “Japan Meat Conference” (JMC, 日本食肉協議会), dishes referred to as “hormone” had already existed in the prewar era, due to the influence of Western (mainly German) medicine during the Meiji Era. At that time, the denomination “hormone” covered not only internal organ dishes but also other sorts of “stamina food” like suppon (スッポン料理, Pelodiscus sinensis japonicus), boiled soft-shelled turtle. Therefore, JMC leans toward the view that the term “Hormone Yaki” was coined regarding its nutrient-rich nature.

How to prepare “Hormone.”

Teppan-yaki (鉄板焼き): marinated meat grilled on a cast iron pan.Kushi-yaki (串焼き): meat skewed onto bamboo sticks, then dipped into sauce and grilled.Yakiniku (焼き肉) or barbecuing: meat directly grilled on fire by use of a metal grid.


À la hormonienne: “Hormone” attracts the ladies!

Hormone seems to be all the rage with young women. In the past few years, all over Japan restaurants specialising in innards have been shooting up. Hormone-nabe (鍋), also known as motsu-nabe (もつ鍋), is a popular winter dish. Motsu is the Kantō equivalent of Hormone, with motsu-nabe originating from Kōfu City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Although the connotation is slightly different, both the Kantō and Kansai regions refer to the same internal animal organs.

Why does hormone or motsu attract so much female attention? The answer is “collagen,” said to be benefiting to the skin, as those innards are believed to contain a healthy lot of collagen.

In 2010, what is called “joshi-kai” (女子会) turned out to be “le dernier cri”: joshi means “women”, and kai is a “get-together” or “gathering”. Hence, joshi-kai are female gatherings, frequent parties held everywhere, and what the ladies indulge in is more often than not motsu-nabe!

Below is a list of restaurants regaling you with innards to keep your skin young and crisp.